Washington: The US had lost its focus in the war on terrorism in Afghanistan by partnering with Pakistan, BJP president Rajnath Singh has said as he asked the Obama Administration to keep India in the loop on any new initiatives in the region.
The BJP leader said that the US had a mix bag of experience in partnering with Pakistan in this war against terrorism.
“The US has made Pakistan a partner in its war on terror in Afghanistan in the last ten years. The results have been a mixed bag. While the Taliban and Al Qaeda have lost many key leaders and thousands of fighters they continue to hold on to their strongholds in the South and East of Afghanistan and also inside Pakistan territory,” Mr Singh said.
“This happened primarily because along the way sometime in 2003/4 the US had lost focus due to its campaigns elsewhere and the terror outfits had gained the breathing space to regroup and resurrect. The result was further fleecing of American dollars by Pakistan, further dependence of America on that country and further rise in the activities of terror networks,” he said.
Mr Singh also asked the US to address the issue of terrorist safe havens in Pakistan as a top issue, arguing without this America can’t think of winning the war against terrorism.
He said the US has to make its own decisions regarding the final scope and time-table of withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“As a major power in the region, India needs to be properly informed about any US initiatives in the region besides other countries,” he said.
He said it was important to ensure that Afghanistan doesn’t relapse into the pre-2001 anarchic mode once the NATO troops withdraw.
“It must be ensured that we do not leave behind a Black Hole’ of global security while leaving that country,” Mr Singh said.
The BJP leader also cautioned the US against any peace talks with the Taliban arguing that the terrorist outfit is unlikely to change its behaviour and reconciliation effort would be a futile exercise.
Mr Singh also asked Pakistan to address the problem of terrorist safe havens there.
“Pakistan needs to do a lot to tackle this menace. Unless the fundamental problem of safe havens of these groups and their leadership in Pakistan is addressed, the Taliban menace cannot be eradicated.”
“The BJP expresses cautious optimism keeping in view the track record of successive regimes in
Pakistan,” he said.
Mr Singh said India has been a target on the radar of terrorists in the last three decades. The Indian Parliament was attacked in 2001. The commercial capital and pride of India, the city of Mumbai, has been repeatedly attacked.
The latest attack was in 2008 in which 266 people, including six US nationals and several other foreigners, were brutally killed, he said.
“Indian Government has enough evidence to prove that the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity found shelter and safe haven in our neighbouring country, Pakistan.
Incidentally Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda chief too was found hiding in Abbottabad in Pakistan,” he said.
Mr Singh said the extremists thrive less on popular support and more on the clandestine support they get from certain political, military and intelligence outfits in pursuit of their stated or unstated strategic and ideological objectives.
“This is at the root of the growth and survival of the terrorist groups in the region. I am pained to state that we the Indians and the Afghans have been exposed to threats from the terrorists who have their safe havens in our shared neighborhood,” he added.
Pakistan, Mr Singh said, must act responsibly to ensure a smooth transition in Afghanistan.
“We expect the new Pakistan leadership to show courage and determination to rein in radical elements within the ISI and the Pakistan Army from interfering in the internal affairs of Afghanistan after the NATO Forces’ withdraw,” he said.
“Pakistan must realise that the radical Taliban have caused enormous damage to not only the NATO Forces and the democratic leadership in Afghanistan, but also the Baluchs and many others in Pakistan too.
“The plight of the Baluch people at the hands of these extremist and terrorist elements calls for serious attention by the international community,” Mr Singh said.